Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."

As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

May 8, 2013: Saint Victor Maurus (Victor the Moor)

Posted by Jacob

May 8 marks the feast day of Saint Victor Maurus, also known as Victor the Moor (died 303), saint and martyr of the early Church. Little is known about the majority of Saint Victor’s life, but much is known about his passion and martyrdom, given a well-recorded account included below, believed to be written by Saint Gregory of Tours. It is firsthand accounts such as this which the Church maintains and utilizes in the beatification and canonization process.

Saint Victor was born and raised in Mauretania in a Christian household. He is reported to have served in the Roman Army throughout his life, likely as a praetorian guard. Though he was a practicing Christian throughout the time of persecution, he was not discovered until late in life, when he is believed to have been quite elderly, following his destruction of several pagan alters. As his passion describes, he was arrested, brutally tortured—including being basted with molten lead—imprisoned, and eventually decaptitated for his faith. Throughout, he steadfastly refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, asserting his belief in the one true faith—a faith he was happy to confess he had practiced since his youth, stating: "I certainly am a Christian, and I adore Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God who was born of the Virgin Mary. I believe in my heart, and I never stop praising him with my mouth."

The Emperor, Maximianus, knew Victor, as he had served long in the guard. He gave him every opportunity to recant his faith, hoping that torture would at long last convince him. In the midst of his pain—being stretched on the rack, beaten, having molten lead poured on his body—Victor held true to his belief in Christ. He stated, "Christ is my salvation and my strength. I am nourished by the spirit of him who I have received into my body." The Emperor, not giving up, offered Saint Victor status and riches, should he sacrifice to the pagan gods, similar to the temptations of Jesus by the Devil in the desert. Victor replied, "All the gods of the nations are demons, but our God made the heavens: if, therefore, they are called demons from the start, how will I worship them? I have already said, and will say it again: I will not sacrifice to the demons but I offer myself as a sacrifice of praise to God: because it is written ‘everyone who sacrifices to demons and not to God willbe destroyed.’ I do not accept the rewards promised by you, but I accept strength from my God every day."

Unable to convince him, Victor was beheaded on May 8. The local bishop received permission to bury the body, which remained guarded by wild beasts for 6 days until he could retrieve it. Later a church was erected over his grave. According to St. Gregory of Tours, many miracles occurred at the shrine. In 1576, Victor's relics were transferred to a new church in Milan established by the Olivetan monks. The church still bears Saint Victor's name today.

The life of Saint Victor Maurus is remarkable in its simplicity. He was a lay person—a soldier—who held fast to his faith throughout his life, during a time of growing distrust and eventual persecution of Christians. His death, in contrast, is remarkable for its solidarity with heaven. Saint Victor, at the end of his days, did not fear torture and death, but welcomed it willingly as a testament to his faith and confidence in the Lord. He endured six days of inhuman pain, never losing sight of the glory of God and the love and grace of Our Blessed Mother. His steadfast faith reminds us of how easily distracted we are today, in our own lives, from our faith by seemingly trivial matters. Imagine our response to torture and pain for our beliefs, for the Lord. How might we incorporate Saint Victor Maurus’ single-minded focus on Christ into our daily lives?

The Passion of St. Victor

1. When the impious Maximianus was ruling as emperor there was a great persecution of Christians in the city of Milan. There was there a certain soldier by the name of Victor, Moorish by race, who was very well known to the emperor. Then his ministers made a report to the emperor saying, "O Most Clement Lord and Emperor, Victor the Moor has become a Christian and blasphemes against our gods, saying that they are demons. The emperor was angered and ordered that Victor be brought before him; and he said to him, "Victor my soldier, what do you think that you are lacking that you have become a Christian?" Victor responded, "I have not become a Christian just recently, but have been one since my youth." The emperor Maximianus said, "You are a Christian, then, so you clearly say?" Victor replied, "I certainly am a Christian, and I adore Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God who was born of the Virgin Mary. I believe in my heart, and I never stop praising him with my mouth." Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with anger and ordered that he be thrown into the prison which was near the Circus and on the route to the Ticinese Gate, and that he be closely guarded, saying to him, "Go Victor, think to yourself how you can escape those terrible tortures which will viciously rip you unless you offer sacrifice". Thus he was sent to prison and spent six days there, and the emperor ordered that neither bread nor water were to be given to him. On the seventh day the emperor Maximianus ordered a platform to be readied for him in the hippodrome of the Circus, and that Saint Victor be brought to him. He said to him, "What is it, Victor, what have you decided about your salvation?" Saint Victor replied, "Christ is my salvation and my strength. I am nourished by the spirit of him who I have received into my body."

2. Then the emperor Maximianus was filled with anger and ordered that clubs be brought, and that Victor be stretched out in his sight and beaten. He commanded that the torturers should go beyond the third mark of the rack, and should shout at him, "Sacrifice to the Gods whom the emperor and everyone worship." When Victor had been beaten the emperor ordered that he be set up straight, and said to him, "Victor, hear my advice, yield to and serve those gods: because no-one can better serve them than you, especially since you are distinguished by your grey hairs". Saint Victor replied, "Blessed David, king and prophet, teaches, "All the gods of the nations are demons, but our God made the heavens: if, therefore, they are called demons from the start, how will I worship them?" Then the emperor Maximianus said to him, "Behold I give to you the rank of magister militum, much gold and silver, retinues and property, only sacrifice to the gods whom we worship". Victor replied, "I have already said, and will say it again: I will not sacrifice to the demons but I offer myself as a sacrifice of praise to God: because it is written "everyone who sacrifices to demons and not to God will be destroyed."" The emperor's consiliarius Anolinus said, "Victor, rewards have been promised to you by the most clement emperor: why don't you sacrifice to the gods whom the emperor adores, those to whom he bows his neck?" Saint Victor replied, "I do not accept the rewards promised by you, but I accept strength from my God every- day."

3. Then, angered, the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be thrown into prison again, the prison near the Roman Gate. When he was there for three days the emperor ordered that he be brought forth from the prison, and said to him, "Victor, sacrifice to those gods whose real divinity proves them to be gods". Saint Victor replied, "I do not sacrifice to the gods of the pagans: for it would be shameful for me to desert what I learned in the sanctification of my baptism, even if in a situation of necessity and under the compulsion of an evil man, you. I will not. Do what you will do, for I know that he who fights on my behalf is stronger than you." Then the emperor Maximianus and his Consiliarius Anolinus ordered clubs to be brought, and Victor to be stretched out. They ordered that the torturers should go beyond the fifth mark of the rack, and should shout at him, "Sacrifice to the gods whom the emperor and everyone worship." Then Saint Victor, although he was in the middle of his punishment, did not show any feeling of pain but prayed thus to the Lord, saying, "Lord Jesus Christ by whose bread I am nourished today, my king and my God, help me in the midst of these tortures." Then the emperor Maximianus said to him, "Victor, take thought for your life and sacrifice to the gods whom all adore. For I swear by the gods, by my welfare and by the government of the state, that unless you sacrifice through various punishments I will make you breathe your last breath. And do not hope that if you are punished by me that the Christians will make my servant one of their martyrs: for I will order that you be flung where your body will never be found." Saint Victor replied, "I am not sacrificing: do what seems best to you: you will not make a servant of yours breathe his last as you said, but a servant of Christ." Then the emperor Maximianus, angered because Victor had replied in this manner, ordered that he be thrown into the prison near the Roman Gate again, and that his legs be stretched apart on a slab.

4. When Victor had been let out from there, the Consiliarius Anolinus sent messengers to him saying, "Go and say to Victor "Fellow, you have badly given up hope of your life, take thought for your safety, and do not further provoke your emperor to anger. Hear my advice, sacrifice to our gods and seek from the emperor whatever honour you wish: for by the gods and the welfare of the emperor you are readying many torments for yourself."" Saint Victor said to those who came to him, "Go and tell Anolinus. I do not sacrifice to the gods of the pagans because scripture teaches us that all those who worship idols and glory in their statues will be destroyed. I worship the living and true God that I may live forever." When this had been reported to Anolinus it was reported to the emperor also. Both were extremely angry. On the next day the emperor Maximianus ordered him to be led out of prison, and Anolinus said to him, "Is your heart so stubborn that you will not listen to the commands of the emperor and sacrifice?" Saint Victor replied, "I do not sacrifice to gods which are unclean and senseless. "Then the emperor ordered that all kinds of instruments of torture be brought before him, and he said to him, "Do you see, Victor, what great torments await you if you do not sacrifice?" Saint Victor replied, "Those torments which you wish to inflict upon me are nothing: but greater torments will be prepared for you by my god on the day of righteous judgement." Then the emperor Maximianus, taking it badly that Victor had openly insulted him, ordered lead to be brought forward, melted, and poured over the whole of Victor's body. And when he was being covered in this way, Victor prayed thus to the Lord, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, for whose name I endure these things, help me and free me, just as you freed unharmed the three boys from the midst of the burning furnace, and confounded the tyrant: send an aide now in that manner, and free your servant to the embarrassment of Maximianus and his lackeys." And there immediately appeared an angel of the Lord who made the lead as cold as springwater and it did not burn any part of Victor's body. Then, stretching out his hands, Blessed Victor gave thanks to the Lord, saying, "I thank you, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, that you deigned to pity your servant, and sent your holy angel who cooled the lead and soothed with the ointment of your mercy the wounds which the wicked Maximianus inflicted upon me." Then Maximianus and all those who were present were amazed that Victor's body had not been burned. Then Saint Victor said, "I thank you, Lord God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you who cooled the lead and enabled me to overcome the terrible tortures; do not allow me, I beg you, to be overcome by those men."

5. Then the emperor Maximianus ordered that he be led to the Vercelline Gate: and while they awaited the emperor's commands they paused there. Then the soldiers who were guarding Saint Victor fell asleep, and rising Victor fled and hid himself in a stable in front of the theatre. Then the soldiers rose and pursued him, and finding a lone woman they questioned her, asking, "Did you not see a white-haired man with torn clothing come this way?" The woman replied, and said, "I did see a white-haired man with torn clothing flee this way." Then the soldiers continued their pursuit along the road which was named after the stables, and they arrived in front of the theatre; and entering the stables they found Saint Victor hidden in front of the horses. Then the soldiers assaulted him and brought him outside. When Maximianus heard that Victor had fled he was furious with his soldiers, and he ordered other soldiers to take them outside the city to a place called the Garden of Philippus. The emperor himself strolled about in the hippodrome of the circus, and sent runners to Victor, saying "Go and tell Victor "you have despaired for your life, and you are not willing to offer sacrifice: by the gods, if you do not sacrifice I will sentence you to capital punishment."" To these Victor replied, "Go and tell your emperor "do quickly what you are about to do because I want to receive my reward from God, the reward for which I suffer these things, and because it is time: if it should please him who has given me my soul and spirit."" Then the emperor Maximianus ordered his servants to be called, and he told them that Victor was to be led to a small wood named The Elms, where he the emperor had a garden, and that he was to be beheaded there. And when Saint Victor was being brought there, he said to the soldiers who were bringing him, "Tell the emperor Maximianus that he will die this year, and that when he is dead no grave will accept him unless his legs are broken." When he had said these things they reached the place, and Victor made a speech, saying, "I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have not separated me from your saints, my fellow citizens, Nabor and Felix. I bless and thank you forever. Amen." When the speech was complete his head was cut off by a servant.

6. Then the emperor ordered that no one should bury his body in order that it might be eaten by the wild animals. And after six days the emperor sent his quaestor with soldiers in order to see if it had been eaten by the beasts and serpents. They went and found Victor's body intact, in no part damaged, and two beasts guarding it, one at his head and the other at his feet. They returned and reported to the emperor. Then the emperor ordered that the body should be buried. After permission had been given to bury the martyr the saintly and most blessed bishop Maternus went for it, and found two beasts, one guarding his head and the other guarding his feet. The body itself was as it had been left at the very hour of execution. But the beasts, when they saw the saintly bishop Maternus, gave way; as long as they had stood there the body had been protected. Maternus wrapped the corpse in linen, brought it not far from the little wood, and buried it in peace. Then Anolinus the consiliarius ordered all the exceptores in the palace to beseized, and made them swear by their gods that if any of them had any written record no one would conceal it. Then they all swore by the gods and by the safety of the emperor that no one would conceal such, and all the papers were brought forward, and Anolinus had them burned before him by a servant. This greatly pleased the emperor. Saint Victor was beheaded on 8 May, and buried by the bishop Saint Maternus on 14 May, during the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen. (Act. Sanct. Mai II, 288-90)

May 7, 2013: Saint Rosa Venerini

Posted by Jacob

On May 7, we celebrate a recently canonized saint, Saint Rosa Venerini (1656-1728), who Pope Benedict XVI referred to as an “example of a faithful disciple of Christ, ready to give up all in order to do the will of God.” Saint Rosa is a model of obedience and service, dedicating her life to the education, care, and Christian formation of young women in service of Our Lord.

Rosa was born in Viterbo, Italy, the daughter of a talented and prestigious doctor. At age seven, she declared her intentions to consecrate her life to God. Her desire was nourished by her family faith life, and she matured into an educated and sensible young woman with a heart of service and deeply felt spirituality. At age 20, with her father’s encouragement, Rosa entered the Dominican Monastery of Saint Catherine but remained only a few months. Upon the sudden death of her father, Rosa returned home to care for her mother. Tragedy did not stray from the family, with first her brother dying, followed by her mother succumbing to grief and eventual death.

While Rosa nursed her mother, she established a small community of local women whom she invited over each day to recite the Holy Rosary to Our Blessed Mother. In the conversations that took place before and after prayer, Rosa realized that the vast majority of women at that time had little education or knowledge, especially in regards to the formative teachings of the Church. Rosa began instructing these women, under the spiritual direction of a Jesuit priest, Father Ignatius Martinelli.

Upon her mother’s death, Rosa felt called to remain “in the world,” teaching and forming young Christian women, rather than returning to a contemplative monastic life. Her spiritual director encouraged her vocation, understanding it to be the will of the Lord, and with permission from the Bishop of Viterbo, Saint Rosa opened her first school for girls. With her typical grace and sensibility, there was little fanfare—only a small humble sign which read “Public School for Girls in Italy.” Saint Rosa structured her school according to an innovative plan that had matured in prayer and her search for the will of God. Her primary objective was to provide the “girls of the common people” a complete Christian formation and prepare them for life in society.

Over the course of the next decade, Saint Rosa opened a dozen more schools across the area, meeting great resistance each time. Not only did the public regard her work with suspicion and disdain, oftentimes vocally opposed to the brashness of a woman opening a school, the local clergy in each town also resisted her mission, stating their beliefs that only priests could effectively teach the Catechism. Over time, Rosa’s strength, steadfastness, charity, and grace made her mission impossible to resist. In 1716, Rosa received a visit from Pope Clement XI, accompanied by eight Cardinals, who wanted to attend the lessons provided by her teachers. Amazed and pleased, at the end of the morning he addressed these words to the Foundress: “Signora Rosa, you are doing that which we cannot do. We thank you very much because with these schools you will sanctify Rome.”
Following the papal visit, Rosa’s schools were in high demand, requested across the country, and the communities she taught in became her biggest supporters and advocates. From her devotion to the Blessed Mother, Rosa understood herself, as a woman, to be the carrier of a plan of love, like Mary. She never strayed from her obedient love of the Lord, and her focus on fulfilling His mission for her on earth. “Educate to save” became the motto that urged the Venerini Teachers (Maestre Pie Venerini) to continue the Work of the Lord intended by their Foundress and radiate the charism of Rosa to the world: to free from ignorance and evil so that the project of God which every person carries within can be visible.

In addition to her difficult labors in creating schools and converting communities, Rosa ministered to the sick and discouraged, oftentimes healing through prayer. She spent countless hours in mental prayer and communion with the Lord, which she referred to as “essential nourishment for the soul.” Saint Rosa stated, “I feel so nailed to the Will of God that nothing else matters, neither death nor life. I want what He wants; I want to serve Him as much as pleases Him and no more.” She united with love the sufferings, hard work and joys of her own life to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, concerned that His Precious Blood would not be shed in vain.

Saint Rosa died a saintly death in the community of St. Mark’s in Rome on the evening of May 7, 1728. She had opened more than forty schools over her lifetime. Her remains were entombed in the nearby Church of the Gesù, so loved by her. In 1952, on the occasion of her Beatification, they were transferred to the chapel of the Generalate in Rome. In 2006, she was formally canonized by Pope Benedict XVI. During his homily, he stated:

“Saint Rose Venerini is another example of a faithful disciple of Christ, ready to give up all in order to do the will of God. She loved to say: "I find myself so bound to the divine will that neither death nor life is important: I want to live as he wishes and I want to serve him as he likes, and nothing more."

From here, from this surrender to God, sprang the long-admired work that she courageously developed in favor of the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time.

Saint Rose did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church's doctrinal teaching.

Her own apostolic style continues to characterize the life of the Congregation of the Religious Teachers Venerini which she founded. And how timely and important for today's society is this service, which puts them in the field of education and especially of the formation of women.”

Today, the Maestre Pie Venerini continue to serve and transmit the apostolic concern and charism of their founder, Saint Rosa. The community can be found in Italy, as well as the United States, Switzerland, India, Brazil, Cameroon, Romania, Albania, Chile, Venezuela and Nigeria. In each location, preference is always given to the poor, with both their educational and spiritual needs attended to.

The life of Saint Rosa demonstrates to each of us the call that the Lord gives and our need to be willing to listen and obey. Rosa’s life changed dramatically, and she accomplished great works for the glory of the Lord, because she was willing to listen to Him, to persevere through hardship and opposition, and remain steadfast to her mission and His will. Saint Rosa’s life touched countless souls, and her community continues to do so today. What could each of us accomplish if we courageously submitted to the plan of the Almighty? What radical change in the world are we preventing by failing to do so?

May 5, 2013: Saint Hilary of Arles

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 5, we remember Saint Hilary of Arles (400-449), a saint called to holiness at a young age, who suffered persecution from within the church late in life for his obedience to the Lord. The life of Saint Hilary suggests to us that even the holiest of men and women struggle with their callings, require assistance and support in prayer and encouragement from their friends and families, and despite their sanctity, are slaves to their human weaknesses.

Hilary was born into a noble family in France, a relative of Saint Honoratus, Archbishop of Arles. Hilary was raised with an extraordinary education, wealth, and privilege, and seemed poised to make his mark on the secular world when Saint Honoratus came to him, urging his entrance into the Abbey at Lerins. Saint Hilary was torn, as the monastic life was not what he had planned, nor had he felt called to completely. He wrote, "On one side, me-thought I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the world offering me its seducing charms and pleasures. How often did I embrace and reject, will and not will the same thing! But in the end Jesus Christ triumphed in me. And three days after Honoratus had left me, the mercy of God, solicited by his prayers, subdued my rebellious soul."

Following his visit with Saint Honoratus, Hillary entered the Abbey at Lerins, eager to embark on his spiritual mission alongside his relative. "What floods of tears," he wrote about Saint Honoratus, "did this true friend shed to soften the hardness of my heart! How often did he embrace me with the most tender and compassionate affection, to obtain of me that I would take into serious consideration the salvation of my soul! Yet, by an unhappy victory, I still remained conqueror." Honoratus, finding his endeavors to wean him from the charms of a deceitful world not completely effective, turned to prayer, saying to our soon-to-be-Saint, "I will obtain of God, what you will not now grant me."

At the young age of 29, Hilary was chosen as Archbishop of Arles—an appointment he resisted in humility-- succeeding Honoratus. He became known for his austerities, despite his appointed role, his mortification and penance, and for the love he showed to his community of faith—the “congregation” as he referred to them (possibly the first to do so). He spent his days in manual labor, raising money for the poor, and was quick to sell church property in ransom for captives. He traveled everywhere on foot, preaching, and converting many through the gift of persuasive oration provided to him by the Lord. Able to easily tailor his language to the education level of the listener, Saint Hilary was fond of saying phrases similar to, “You will not so easily get out of hell, if you are once unhappily fallen into its dungeons!" as warning to sinners.

Upon his appointment, Saint Hilary sold all the property he had inherited, distributing the money raised to the poor and to financially struggling monastic communities. He became a model of prayer, fasting, charity, and virtue. His zeal for the holy life raised the attention and anger of others in leadership roles in the Church, to whom Hilary’s zeal appeared hasty and disobedient. In his exuberance to spread the word of God, he occasionally made powerful governmental adversaries in a time when the power of the pope had not yet been fully established. Indeed, in speaking out on many issues, Saint Hilary—in his humanity-- made mistakes which led to his eventual reprimand by Pope Leo, and the stripping of his title. Eventually, through this time of trial, Saint Hilary refined his virtue, furthering his humility, patience, submissiveness, and obedience. After some time, he was restored by the patient pope, and served the Lord until his death at age 49. While some doubted his methods, none had ever doubted his piety and holiness.

Not only was Saint Hilary a gifted orator, he also wrote several treatises on God, some of which survive today. "We are all equal," he wrote, "in Jesus Christ; and the highest degree of our nobility is to be of the number of the true servants of God. Neither science, nor birth, according to this world, can exalt us, but in proportion to our contempt of them."

“The Lord taught by way of example that the glory of human ambition must be left behind when he said, “The Lord your God shall you adore and him only shall you serve.” And when he announced through the prophets that he would choose a people humble and in awe of his words, he introduced the perfect Beatitude as humility of spirit. Therefore he defines those who are inspired as people aware that they are in possession of the heavenly kingdom. Nothing belongs to anyone as being properly one’s own, but all have the same things by the gift of a single parent. They have been given the first things needed to come into life and have been supplied with the means to use them.”

The life of Saint Hilary is one of struggle to be obedient. His plans for his life were not what the Lord had in mind, and he struggled to obey—relying not only on his own merit but on the prayers and support of his family. At age 29, Saint Hilary resisted his appointment as Archbishop, but eventually was obedient to the Lord’s will and served with zeal. Even in his older age, Saint Hilary struggled with submissiveness to the pope, but through prayer and penance was able to again overcome his human weakness.

Oftentimes we think of the lives of the saints as perfect and smooth. Saint Hilary’s life reminds us that human struggles are part of the Lord’s plan for us, part of His calling to us, part of our refining process. Through prayer, penance, and fasting, Saint Hilary overcame his human weakness, increasing his obedience, and submitting himself to the will of God—but it wasn’t easy, and it took his entire life! We are encouraged by Saint Hilary when we, ourselves, struggle—that while we work to understand and follow the Lord’s will, our time on earth (while never smooth and easy) will yield holy fruit if we strive for virtue!

A Prayer for the Virtue of Obedience

Jesus, Almighty King of kings, You Who obeyed Your Father to the end, Teach me the meaning of obedience. My soul burns to comply to Your Will, Striving to charm Your Divinity. While my worldly nature seeks one way, My spiritual nature seeks another. Bless me with the strength to obey, That my soul may subdue both natures, Blending them as a fair aromatic bloom. I always seek favor in Your eyes, To always obey You until my last breath!

May 4, 2013: Our Lady of Laus

Posted by Jacob

In 1647, in Saint-Etienne, France—located at the foot of the Alps in the vale of Laus, a young peasant girl was born into poverty. Benoite Rencurel, a humble girl chosen as a visionary and pupil to Our Blessed Mother-- Our Lady of Laus-- grew up in a small town that was nestled in the green valleys of Dauphine. While the family was poor, they were rich in spirit, and Benoite’s mother taught her to pray the Rosary at a young age—an activity which she undertook faithfully every day. When Benoite was approximately seven years old, her father died, which forced Benoite to leave school and take two jobs shepherding the sheep of nearby farmers to help her mother pay the household bills. It was in the fields, with her sheep, that Benoite would meet the Mother of God and undertake her holy mission.
In May of 1664, when Benoite was seventeen, she was praying the Rosary in the fields when Saint Maurice appeared to her, in the guise of an old and venerable man. He directed her to move her flocks to another pasture, further up the mountain, toward the town of Laus, saying "Go to the valley above Saint-Étienne. That is where you will see the Mother of God." Benoite answered, "But Sir, She is in Heaven. How can I see Her there?" Saint Maurice assured her, "Yes, She is in Heaven, and on earth too when She wants." The following morning, Benoite hurried to the area he described, and upon reaching it, discovered a small grotto. There, she was graced by the appearance of a radiantly beautiful lady leading a child by the hand. Benoite, despite having been told by Saint Maurice that it was Our Blessed Mother, did not realize who she was. Instead, she was content-- overjoyed—to sit in her presence. By the reports of her family and neighbors, Benoite’s face changed overnight, overcome with serenity and grace, which she freely distributed to others with a cheerful humility and simplicity.

The Blessed Virgin continued to appear to Benoite for approximately 4 months without revealing her name or speaking. In her own time, when Benoite was ready for his mission, Our Holy Mother began to teach her, preparing her for her mission. She instructed Benoite on how to say the Litany of Loreto, encouraging her to teach it to her friends and recite it nightly in the town chapel. She also revealed to Benoite that she had been given a powerful gift by the Lord, that of exhortation—Benoite was given the charism of reading hearts. This gift, however, was accompanied by the heavy burden of correcting souls and disclosing the sad condition of souls to those who possessed them.

Now, word of the apparitions had begun to spread, and following the witness of Benoite’s employer who had converted after overhearing the conversation of the Blessed Virgin and Benoite, local church authorities intervened. They instructed Benoite—an unschooled, uncultured shepherdess—to inquire as to the identity of the beautiful lady. Benoite begrudgingly did as she was instructed, asking Mary at her next visit, "My good Lady, I and all the people in this place are hard put to know who You are. Might You not be the Mother of our good God? Please be so kind as to tell me, and we will build a chapel here to honor You." Our Blessed Mother replied with a gentle smile that there was no need to build anything on that site as she had chosen a more pleasant spot. Then she added, "I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus. You will not see me here any more, nor for some time." After a month’s time, during which Benoite fell ill due to her sorrow of separation from the Blessed Mother, she again was graced with an appearance. Mary, Mother of God, informed her: "From now on, you will see Me only in the chapel that is in Laus," and she showed her the path that went up and over the hill toward Laus-- a small village that Benoite had heard about but never visited.

In the village of Laus, a small chapel—little more than a hut with a straw roof—had been built by the farmers, for those occasions in which they couldn’t make the journey to church. It was in this tiny chapel—a new stable of Bethlehem—that Benoite found the Blessed Virgin, surrounded by a most intoxicating and beautiful heavenly scent. The Blessed Mother instructed Benoite, “Soon nothing will be lacking here-----neither vestments nor altar linens nor candles. I want a large church built on this spot, along with a building for a few resident priests. The church will be built in honor of my dear Son and Myself. Here many sinners will be converted. I will appear to you often here."

But Benoite was troubled. She had already been questioned by church authorities, who did not believe her account of the visions, and despite her limited education, knew that this request would not be met eagerly. "Build a church?" she exclaimed. "There's no money for that here!"

"Do not worry,” Mary gently answered. “When the time comes to build, you will find all you need, and it will not be long. The pennies of the poor will provide for everything. Nothing will be lacking." And so it was to be. During the long winter of 1664, Benoite made the four kilometer trek to the little chapel, wrapped in little more than a wool shawl. During this time, Our Blessed Mother encouraged her to give up her shepherding job to focus more fully on her mission. She also stated, consistent with all of Our Heavenly Mother’s appearances, “Pray continuously for sinners.”

In 1665, the Blessed Virgin told Benoite, “I asked My Son for Laus for the conversion of sinners, and He has granted it to Me." While church authorities allowed the celebration of Mass in the tiny chapel, they made no definitive pronouncement regarding the veracity of the apparitions.

Following a visit by the Vicar General, during which he threatened to close the chapel, and demanded a miracle, a local woman who had been crippled since birth was miraculously healed. Based upon this miracle, the Vicar General assigned permanent priests and authorized construction of the church, declaring, "There is something extraordinary occurring in that chapel. Yes, the hand of God is there!" Over the next four years, a large church was miraculously built, mostly by volunteers. All who worked on the building reported being surrounded by the ‘scent of heaven’—sometimes so powerful that it would spill from the building and envelop the surrounding countryside. It was the perfume of the holy. At that time, Benoite took the veil as a Dominican Tertiary, known thereafter as Sister Benoite.

As for the sweet perfume of heaven, Sister Benoite breathed in these fragrances from their source. The manuscripts of Laus report, "Every time the Blessed Virgin honored her with Her visit, people smelled a heavenly fragrance that pervaded the entire church. Sometimes the shepherd girl's clothing was deeply permeated with the heavenly scent for up to eight days; these supernatural fragrances were so sweet and delightful that they lifted up the soul and surpassed all other fragrances on earth." Whenever Benoite returned from being with her good Mother, her face would seem to be ablaze, like that of Moses coming down from Sinai; she would kneel, recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and then for the rest of the day she would be unable to eat.

In 1665, the Blessed Virgin instructed Sister Benoite that those pilgrims traveling to the church in hopes of healing need only to apply some oil from the sanctuary lamp to their affected limbs and be cured. A great number of miraculous physical and mental cures were recorded, and continue to be today.

For fifty-four years, the Blessed Virgin continued to appear to Benoite in the church at Laus, at least once each month. For her part, Benoite continued to spend each day in prayer, suffering, and exhortation. She, according to the mission given to her by her Holy Mother, kept watch over the priests, encouraging them in their confessions, exhorting their sins when necessary, and praying for the conversion of sinners. Benoite stated that she could see the state of a person’s soul “all at once” like “looking in a mirror.” She would lead those not in a state of grace away from the alter rail at Holy Eucharist, gently encouraging their conversion and purification. All of this was done with profound humility, stating, "The Mother of God commands me to do it in such a mild manner that I don't believe She absolutely wants it. And when I fail, my good Mother corrects me without getting angry. So because of the shame I feel on admonishing others, I often wait for a second command, and then I obey."

Sister Benoite prayed before the Crucifix every day. Kneeling down, she would gaze at our Savior on His Cross, and her heart would melt with love and compassion at the thought of all He has done for the salvation of men. To reward her, she witnessed Him crucified, bleeding and in agony, with the wounds in His hands, feet and side, and red gashes from the scourging covering His Body. The Crucifix, itself, bled.

Overcome with sadness, Benoite exclaimed, "Oh, my Jesus, if You remain like this another instant, I will die!" The sight of His sufferings caused her such great distress that one day her Guardian Angel came to assure her, saying, "Do not be troubled, my Sister. Although our Divine Master has appeared to you in this condition, He is not suffering anything; it is solely to show you what He suffered out of love for the human race."

After that, Christ Himself spoke to Benoite, stating, "My daughter, I am showing Myself to you in this condition so that you may participate in the sorrows of My Passion." For fifteen years, every week, she experienced the pain and wounds of a mystical crucifixion after that moment until her ecstasies attracted so much attention she prayed they stop, saying, “"May my sufferings be even more cruel if such is God's good pleasure, but let them be less visible!" The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and said, "You will no longer have the Friday sufferings, but you will have many others."

Throughout her life, Benoite followed the instructions of the Blessed Virgin without exception. She was persecuted and criticized first by men, and later tormented by demons and the Devil. Throughout all, she clung to her Good Mother, stating, "I would rather die a thousand times forsaken by Mary, than forsake Her for a single moment!" Before her death, her guardian angel, who appeared throughout her life to pray with her and open the door to the church for her, stated, “The Laus devotion is the work of God which neither man nor the devil can destroy. It will continue until the end of the world, flourishing more and more and bearing great fruit everywhere."

Sister Benoite, having predicted the time of her death, passed away peacefully on December 28, 1718, dying in the odor of sanctity. She was declared Venerable in 1871 and beatified in 1984. During exhumation of her body, her skeleton was found to be miraculously preserved, and her habit like new. It is said that a workman inadvertently dropped a stone on her skeleton, which miraculously bled.

As with other moments in history when Our Blessed Mother has graced humanity with a message, she picked the most humble and lowly of servants to deliver that message and undertake her mission on earth. Through the guidance and tireless obedience of Sister Benoite, a grand basilica has been built in Laus, and countless sinners called to Christ. The Blessed Mother’s constant guidance and instruction of Benoite—the most uneducated of servants—reminds us that Mary is never far from us, praying for us and interceding for us. She encourages the Church in times of difficulty, and lights the way in times of darkness. She is our maternal caregiver throughout our lives. We are reminded that as a people we are never alone, guided by Our Heavenly Father, Our Blessed Mother, Our Savior, and the Holy Spirit.

The Blessed Mother again encourages us to hold to our faith, find joy in our suffering in this world (for our reward will be greater in the next), and to pray for sinners.

Queen of Laus, kind and loving Mother, hear our pious pleas. Your son always hears your prayers, and you always hear your children.

O pure Virgin, ceaselessly watch over our hearts from heaven. Let no dirt tarnish the heavenly whiteness.

Be our support in virtue, all-powerful Virgin, and guide our feeble steps. If we fall, Compassionate Mother, kindly embrace us in your arms.

Give us shelter under your wings when the storms burst with fury, spare us from cruel agony, and may the sinner repent with true remorse.

Leave us not at our last hour, but let us sleep in peace at your maternal breast. And once awakening, drawing back the veil, we will see you in the splendor of heaven.

Our Lady of Laus, Refuge of sinners, pray for us who have recourse to thee.


May 3, 2013: Saint James the Less

Posted by Jacob

May 3 marks the feast day of Saint James the Less (died 62 AD), the ninth of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and author of the Biblical epistle to the twelve “tribes scattered among the nations.” While some confusion remains regarding the identity of Saint James, Biblical scholars agree that his place among the twelve disciples—the first pillars of the Church—was due to his holiness. For this reason, he is sometimes referred to as “James the Just.” The official designation of James the Less (or Lesser) likely stems from his being called to ministry later in life than the other disciples, being of short stature, or from youth. It is a useful distinguishing title from James the Greater, son of Zebedee, another of the twelve. James is remembered for his deep faith—upon the death of Jesus, James stated that he would fast until the Lord returned. Following the resurrection, Jesus appeared personally to James, preparing a meal for him to eat.

Saint James the Lesser was called to discipleship in the second year of the ministry of Jesus. Upon the Ascension of the Lord, James was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem. During this time of great danger to the Church, Saint James’ virtues kept the persecution and anger of the citizens of Jerusalem at bay. Despite his faith, he came to be respected by them. Saint Jerome gave the following account concerning his sanctity: "He was always a virgin, and was a Nazarite, or one consecrated to God. In consequence of which he was never shaved, never cut his hair, never drank any wine or other strong liquor; moreover, he never used any bath, or oil to anoint his limbs, and never ate of any living creature except when of precept, as the paschal lamb: he never wore sandals, never used any other clothes than one single linen garment. He prostrated so much in prayer, that the skin of his knees and forehead was hardened like to camels' hoofs." Working under the direction of Saint Peter, the first pope, Saint James the Lesser toiled tirelessly within the community of Jerusalem, addressing the laws of Moses, and converting thousands of Jews to Christianity.

Saint James the Lesser penned the epistle to the universal Church—to those converted Jews throughout scattered throughout the known world at that time. In his epistle, James provides guidance and instruction in the holy life, restates the importance of the sacraments, and the necessity of both faith and good works.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. (James 1: 2-18)

Out of fear and political retribution, Saint James was summoned before the Sanhedrim at some point following his writing of the epistle. During this hearing, he was accused of violating the law, and sentenced to death by stoning. Biblical scholars suggest that this sentencing had less to do with law violation (as Saint James had committed no crime) and more to do with the frustration of the Jews at the time in not being able to punish Saint Paul, who had escaped persecution by appealing directly to Caesar. Saint James was carried to the top of the battlements of Jerusalem, where he was ordered to renounce his faith. Rather, he preached to the great crowd assembled, declaring that Jesus, the Son of man, was seated at the right hand of the Sovereign Majesty, and would come in the clouds of heaven to judge the world. Enraged, the scribes through him from the battlements to the ground below. There he managed to pull himself into a kneeling position, praying to the Lord, and forgiving his attackers before the crowd stoned and clubbed him to death for his faith. The Breviary contains a description of his death: "When he was ninety-six years old and had governed the Church for thirty years in a most holy manner, the Jews sought to stone him, then took him to the pinnacle of the temple and cast him off headlong. As he lay there half dead, with legs broken by the fall, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed to God for the salvation of his enemies, saying: Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do! While the apostle was still praying, a fuller struck his head a mortal blow."

The relics of Saint James now rest next to those of St. Philip in the church of the Holy Apostles in Rome, and their names are mentioned in the first list in the Canon of the Mass. Pope Benedict XVI's addressed the life of Saint James the Less in his General Audience on Wednesday, June 28, 2006:

In our weekly catechesis on the Church’s apostolic ministry, we now turn to the Apostle James the Less. In the Gospels, James is called the son of Alphaeus. He is often identified with another James, known as "James the younger" (cf. Mk 15:40), or "James, the brother of the Lord" (cf. Mt 13:55; Gal 1:19). The Gospels themselves do not relate anything about either James during our Lord’s earthly ministry. The Acts of the Apostles, however, present a "James" whom Saint Paul names with Peter as a "column" of the Church in Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). At the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15), it was James who proposed that the Gentiles converted to Christ not be forced to follow all the precepts of the Mosaic Law. Together with Peter, he thus enabled Gentile Christians to maintain their identity, while respecting the perennially valid relationship between Christianity and its Jewish origins. James also gave his name to the New Testament Letter of James, which continues to speak to us today, stressing the need for a living faith expressed in good works (2:26), and serene abandonment to the will of God (4:15).

O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life; that, following the steps of thy holy Apostle, Saint James, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May 2, 2013: Saint Athansius, Doctor of the Church

Posted by Jacob

"He became what we are that He might make us what He is."

Today, May 2, we celebrate the feast of Saint Athanasius (296-373), bishop, and Doctor of the Church. Athanasius has been called "the Father of Orthodoxy," "the Pillar of the Church," and "Champion of Christ's Divinity." Cardinal Newman described Athanasius as "a principal instrument after the apostles by which the sacred truths of the Church have been conveyed and secured to the world." He is venerated as on the four great Greek Doctors of the Church, and in the East, is considered one of the three Holy Hierarchs. Saint Athanasius is primarily responsible for defense of the true faith against the Arian heresy.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Athanasius exhibited piety from an early age, attending to his studies, learning and memorizing the sacred texts. He left his home, while still a child, to be raised by the bishop of Alexandria, who after observing him playing with his peers, pretending to baptize them into the faith, was so impressed with the child took him as his pupil.

The future saint received an excellent education at the catechetical school of Alexandria that encompassed Greek literature and philosophy, rhetoric, law, and Christian doctrine. His intimacy with Biblical texts is extraordinary. In his own writings, he tells us that he learned theology from teachers who had been confessors during the Maximian persecution. From early youth, he formed a close relationship with the hermits of the desert, which was to prove providential during his exiles because they protected him during several of them

Eventually, the bishop of Alexandria, Saint Alexander, appointed Athanasius deacon, and invited him to attend the Council of Nicea. There, he garnered much attention, demonstrating his learning and ability, defending the faith against Arianism and other heretical beliefs. It was only a short time later that Saint Alexander took ill, and recommended that Athanasius succeed him as Patriarch of Alexandria. For 46 years, Athanasius served in that post, bearing the full brunt of the Arian assault (which claimed that Christ was not divine), oftentimes on his own. For his troubles, he was exiled on five separate occasions, stood firm against four separate Roman emperors, received countless death threats, and stood accused on multiple occasions of all insults, sins, and transgressions. Each time, his hope in the Lord, unwavering commitment to the faith, and model of Christian virtue remained unscathed and victorious.

Though zealous in his defense of the Faith, he was meek and humble, pleasant and winning in conversation, beloved by his flock, unwearied in labors, prayer and mortifications, eloquent in speech, and unsurpassed in zeal for souls. From his places of exile he wrote many great works for the instruction and strengthening of his flock, writings rich in thought and learning, clear, keen and stately in expression. Following his seminal treatise on the Incarnation, Athanasius authored ‘Against the Heathen’ (c. 318), ‘Contra Arianos’ (c. 358), ‘Apologia to Constantius,’ ‘History of the Arians’ (primary historical source), ‘Defense of Flight,’ many letters, ‘The Life of Antony’ (c. 357) in which he chronicled the life of the famous desert hermit, and may other manuscripts. From the time of Saint Bede, his approach to writing inspired other monastic hagiographers. An 8th-century monk wrote, "If you find a book by Athanasius and have no paper on which to copy it, write it on your shirts."

As bishop, Athanasius began a visitation of his entire diocese. He took responsibility for the welfare of the desert monks and fathers who resided in the area. He became their spiritual head for 40 years. He aided the ascetic movement in Egypt, counted Saints Pachomius and Serapion among his friends, and was the first to introduce the knowledge of monasticism in the West. About this time he was also appointed bishop of Ethiopia, where the Christian faith had recently found a footing.

When he returned to Alexandria after his final exile, Athanasius spent the last seven years of his life helping to build the Nicene party. Upon his death, his body was taken first to Constantinople and then to Venice, where it is venerated today.

Saint Athanasius suffered considerable trials and persecution during his tenure as bishop of Alexandria. Yet, despite his constant opposition, he held firm to his beliefs, hope in the Lord, and received the grace from God to remain strong and convicted. He defended the true faith, looked to Our Blessed Mother as a source of hope and comfort, and zealously faced heresy for the sake of his congregation, at great personal cost to himself. We are inspired, during this Easter season to follow in his footsteps, firmly marching toward the kingdom of heaven.

Selected Quotations from Saint Athanasius:

"All of us are naturally frightened of dying and the dissolution of our bodies, but remember this most startling fact: that those who accept the faith of the cross despise even what is normally terrifying, and for the sake of Christ cease to fear even death. When He became man, the Savior's love put away death from us and renewed us again; for Christ became man that we might become God."

“Brethren, how fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Yet we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Savior repeats his words: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever anyone seeks him he is freely admitted to the presence of the Savior. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the mind of those who desire it. Its power is always there for those whose minds have been enlightened and who meditate day and night on the holy Scriptures, like the one who is called blessed in the holy psalm: Blessed is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or stood where sinners stand, or sat in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Moreover, my friends, the God who first established this feast for us allows us to celebrate it each year. He who gave up his Son to death for our salvation, from the same motive gives us this feast, which is commemorated every year. This feast guides us through the trials that meet us in this world. God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this feast, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.”

“The Word who became all things for us is close to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who promises to remain with us always. He cries out, saying: See, I am with you all the days of this age. He is himself the shepherd, the high priest, the way and the door, and has become all things at once for us. In the same way, he has come among us as our feast and holy day as well. The blessed Apostle says of him who was awaited: Christ has been sacrificed as our Passover. It was Christ who shed his light on the psalmist as he prayed: You are my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me. True joy, genuine festival, means the casting out of wickedness. To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness and, in the serenity of the fear of God, practice contemplation in one’s heart. This was the way of the saints, who in their lifetime and at every stage of life rejoiced as at a feast. Blessed David, for example, not once but seven times rose at night to win God’s favor through prayer. The great Moses was full of joy as he sang God’ s praises in hymns of victory for the defeat of Pharaoh and the oppressors of the Hebrew people. Others had hearts filled always with gladness as they performed their sacred duty of worship, like the great Samuel and the blessed Elijah. Because of their holy lives they gained freedom, and now keep festival in heaven. They rejoice after their pilgrimage in shadows, and now distinguish the reality from the promise. When we celebrate the feast in our own day, what path are we to take? As we draw near to this feast, who is to be Our guide? Beloved, it must be none other than the one whom you will address with me as our Lord Jesus Christ. He says: I am the way. As blessed John tells us: it is Christ who takes away the sin of the world. It is he who purifies our souls, as the prophet Jeremiah says: Stand upon the ways; look and see which is the good path, and you will find in it the way of amendment for your souls. In former times the blood of goats and the ashes of a calf were sprinkled on those who were unclean, but they were able to purify only the body. Now through the grace of God’s Word everyone is made abundantly clean. If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy the contemplation of that everlasting feast, like the blessed apostles, who in following the Savior as their leader, showed, and still show, the way to obtain the same gift from God. They said: See, we have left all things and followed you. We too follow the Lord, and we keep his feast by deeds rather than by words.”

“You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.”

“The Word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible, and immaterial, entered our world. Out of his loving-kindness for us he came to us, and we see this in the way he revealed himself openly to us. Taking pity on mankind’s weakness, and moved by our corruption, he could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us. He did not want creation to perish and his Father’s work in fashioning man to be in vain. He therefore took to himself a body, no different from our own, for he did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen. By dying for others, he immediately banished death for all mankind. The corruption of death no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among us through his one body.”

Prayer to Mary, Mother of Grace (written by Saint Athanasius)

It becomes you to be mindful of us, as you stand near him who granted you all graces, for you are the Mother of God and our Queen. Help us for the sake of the King, the Lord God and Master who was born of you. For this reason, you are called full of grace. Remember us, most holy Virgin, and bestow on us gifts from the riches of your graces, Virgin full of graces.

Ever-living God,
whose servant Athanasius bore witness
to the mystery of the Word made flesh for our salvation:
give us grace, with all thy saints,
to contend for the truth
and to grow into the likeness of thy Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.